IM SORRY, but I beg to disagree with one of your ministers who, in the Bible exposition I attended, kept on mentioning the phrase “true Church.” “True Church” does not appear in the Holy Bible, so it is better not to add “true” to the word “church,” lest be punished by the Lord (Rev. 22:18-19).
Believing that Jesus is the Christ is sufficient for a person to be a member of His body or Church (Matt. 16:16-19; I John 5:1; John 20:31; I John 2:21-25). Many religions, especially the various Protestant and ‘born-again’ denominations, preach that Jesus is the Christ, so all of them are His “called out” (translated “church”).
Letter from Nino Ambrocio
Fresno, California, USA
Pasugo Editor’s Reply:
In stressing an important point in our discourse, like the one you heard, we do make use of the phrase “true Church.” Usually, the qualifier “true” is used in the context that today, unlike during Christ’s ministry on earth, many false religions introduce themselves as Christ’s Church. Hence, to distinguish the Church that belongs to Christ from those which only claim as such, we use the phrase “true Church.” This is not adding to the Scriptures but only serves to magnify the biblical truth as we relate it to the present situation. Christ Himself made mention of “true worshipers” (John 4:23) as opposed to those who are not (Matt. 15:9).
What actually is a gross twisting of the Scriptures is the statement that “believing that Jesus is the Christ is sufficient to be a member of His body or Church.” While the verses you enumerated (Matt. 16:16-19; I John 5:1; John 20:31; I John 2:21-25) do teach the importance of “believing that Jesus is the Christ,” neither one of them states that it is “sufficient” to become part of Christ’s body.
In John 8:31, Jesus Himself “said to those Jews who believed in Him, ‘If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed” (New King James Version). Jesus here was talking not to people who have no faith in Him but to those “who believed in Him.” Hence, He taught them the condition they should meet for them to be His disciples: “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed.” Therefore, one cannot be Christ’s disciple or a member of His Church by simply believing in or professing faith in Him – he should also obey Christ’s words or commands.
One of Christ’s commands is to enter His fold. In John 10:9, the Savior pronounced, “I am the door; anyone who comes into the fold through me will be safe” (Revised English Bible). The fold or flock that is referred to, according to Apostle Paul, is the Church of Christ (Acts 20:28, Lamsa Translation). Therefore, only those who have joined Christ fold by listening to the Gospel as preached by God’s messengers (Mark 16:15; Rom. 10:15), believing in them (Mark 16:16), and receiving baptism into one body (Mark 16:16; I Cor. 12:13) are the true members of the Church of Christ (Col. 1:18; Acts 20:28, Lamsa Translation).
The Church is called the body of Christ (Col. 1:18). There are not many bodies or churches of Christ but only one. This truth emanates from the fact that Christ founded only one Church (Matt. 16:18). Therefore, the true believers in Christ are not found in many different religious organizations for they are baptized into just one body (I Cor. 12:13) or Church which, as described by the Holy Scriptures, is professing “one faith” (Eph. 4:4-6). As various Christian-professing religious groups nowadays espouse opposing sets of doctrines and practices, it would be unbiblical and illogical to believe that they all compose the true Church of Christ.
Conclusively, one should listen to the words of God from His messengers (Rom. 10:15), believe in them, and be baptized in order to be saved. In being baptized, he joins the Church where those called by God are gathered together (I Cor. 12:13; Col. 3:15). But, as he enters the Church, he can only be assured of salvation if he would remain in the Church, faithful to the commandments of God, that is, leading a righteous life based on the teachings of the Bible (II Cor. 5:17; II Tim. 3:15-17) and endure until the end (Matt. 24:13). These biblical teachings prove, among others, that merely believing in Christ does not make a person a member of Christ’s body or Church, much less become worthy of salvation. The Savior Himself declared:
“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.” (Matt. 7:21, NKJV)
Source: IGLESIA NI CRISTO Pasugo, God’s Message, March 2010 Edition, Volume 62, Number 3, ISSN 0116-1636, from the Mailbox Section, p. 4